Tiny Office Talks
Ronald Weasley was not a happy man. He had a stack of menial paperwork the size of his fiancé’s plump kneazle waiting on his desk. He had awful back pain from sleeping on their lumpy couch the other night, and it was all because he was stupid enough to make the woman he loved angry by speaking before thinking, which he was beating himself up about. Sitting in his uncomfortable office chair, he had his elbows on his knees and his head resting in his hands, muttering, “why did I have to say that? Why did I have to do that?” He knew Hermione and him had a moment last night, but it came crashing down that morning. She gave him credit for being the comforting presence they both needed last night, but she was still angry with him for his distrust. It didn’t help that in morning, after they agreed to temporarily keep the child, he remarked that she would need to tell Kingsley she couldn’t work now that she had to take care of a kid. She left quite abruptly after that with a terse ‘goodbye’.
A knock on the door startled him out of his self loathing, and he tried to rub the anguish and sleeplessness off his face as he got up to open the door to his tiny office. He didn’t understand why they would even give him an office. It was small enough to make Flitwick claustrophobic. Besides for an average sized Ministry desk, a scratchy grey office chair, and a 5 drawer filing cabinet, the only other thing in his office was himself and a cramped pathway to the door. So much for “war heroes deserve the best treatment”, Seamus’s cubicle was bigger than this. The office was so confined that the door opened outwards, so when Ron opened the door for his visitor, he felt a bump, then a discernible groan.
“Hermione?” he peered around the door at the source of the sound noise. When he saw his fiancé rubbing her shoulder, he couldn’t help but quirk a smile and go back to his normal role of easing tension to say, “for someone so smart, you’d think years of being knocked around by this door would help you to remember to stand back a bit.”
The quick smirk on her face told Ron that with enough effort, he could get himself back in Hermione’s good graces. That tiny grin gave Ron hope, and with hope anything is achievable. But, her face fell a second later, which served to remind Ron that he still had work to do.
He squeezed himself to the side to let her in, and when his witch had shoved herself in the space between the desk and the wall, he shut the door and sat behind is desk again. Looking pained and slightly uncomfortable, like anyone who visited Ron Weasley’s office, Hermione shuffled to sit on the least messy corner of his desk, and looked at him with both determination and a bit of anxiety. He could already tell she didn’t come in here for a pleasant chat.
“Ron, I know we’re not getting on too well right now, but I need you to listen to me before you say anything, okay?” she appealed. Ron knew he was already in deep trouble for putting his foot in his mouth and letting his temper get the best of him, so he vowed that he would show her just how level-headed and trusting he can be. He really wanted to sleep in his own bed with his fiancé curled up with him again. But not trusting his voice at the moment, he just nodded, knowing the fewer things he said, the happier she would be right now.
“Well,” Hermione started. “Kingsley and I have come into a special case, and it will require your cooperation.” This peaked Ron’s curiosity, normally Hermione doesn’t work with anyone outside her department. But, the word cooperation paired with recent events lead Ron to be suspicious. She continued, seeing no anger in his face, “A few days ago, I reported a to the Department of Child Services that I saw a little girl both trying to steal books, and alone, unwilling to say who her parents were. Aurors caught the little girl yesterday. That is the little girl they asked us to foster, and there has been an interesting development.” She paused for a bit, probably to make sure she worded everything carefully. Ron knew this was going to be some news he wouldn’t like because Hermione was taking longer pauses between her words.
“As you are aware, I am working with Malfoy on a case,” she persisted. The name Malfoy set off a warning bell in Ron’s head. This would usually be where he would get very angry and yell that she shouldn’t be near the dirty Death Eater, but Ron knew to stay quiet. He hated Malfoy, and especially Malfoy being around his witch, but he knew that he was on a very thin rope right now, and letting his childhood enemy get to him would not be advisable. So, Ron kept listening, trying to rein his growing temper.
“However, I don’t think you know what the law we’re trying to break says. The Muggle Marriage Act of 1205 is a law that says pureblood cannot marry muggles or muggleborns. It also states that any possessions from the union are the property of the pureblood. Such possessions include children, and the law states that the pureblood can handle them ‘as he pleases’, which means by law the pureblood can kill the child.” Hermione took a pause, and Ron let the information sink in. With this law, he couldn’t marry Hermione. Ron knew, however, that this wasn’t the main issue. The issue had something to do with Malfoy, the little girl they would be fostering, and this law. Before he could accuse Malfoy of wanting to kill the child, Hermione began to speak again, and he kept his accusations for after she was done.
“What I am about to tell you is confidential. If anyone finds out, Rosalinda will probably be killed. Do you understand?” Hermione demanded.
Ron nodded his head. Hateful comments were pouring through his consciences, and if his mouth opened, he wouldn’t be able to stop his rant. He hoped Hermione could recognize just how difficult if was for him to keep his temper down like this. “Well, Rosalinda is Malfoy’s child,” Hermione said bluntly. This was Ron’s tipping point. Under no circumstances would he foster the child of a Malfoy. Before he could assert this, Hermione cut him off with her signature death glare. A glare so frightening, that he stopped mid mouth-opening, and backed down. As furious as he was about this news, that glare could only mean that his life would be worse than imaginable if he dare protested. So he settled for a glare, and when Hermione was satisfied with his silence, she continued.
“He had this girl young, and under circumstances I am not at liberty to discuss, but the mother is a muggle born witch. Under Pureblood law, Malfoy and all of his possessions are at the will of Lucius Malfoy until Malfoy marries, or Lucius dies. Malfoy has managed to hide the child from Lucius, but if his father ever found out, you can imagine what would happen to the child.” Hermione took a pause to look at Ron wearily, hoping that the significance of putting aside his childhood rivalry would not be lost in him.
Ron was freaking out on the inside. He was sure that on the outside he looked as pale as Malfoy. Malfoy. He would be taking in Draco Malfoy’s child. There was no question about it. Between the look that Hermione was giving him which said ‘if you don’t agree to this, sleeping on a couch will be the least of your problems’ and knowing that the little girl was actually in danger, he knew he had no choice. There was no way Ron Weasley would let a little girl die at the hand of Lucius Malfoy because he couldn’t put up with a kid for a few months.
Hermione took his pale but resolute face as a sign of his understanding, and finished, “Believe it or not, Malfoy wants his daughter and doesn’t want his father harming her. I know you hate him, but he has been very good to both Rosalinda and her mum in every way he could. I hate to admit it too, but he has changed. Will you help me protect this little girl? If not to help Malfoy, but at least to save this child?”
Hermione was looking at him with big doe eyes. They were pleading him not to be angry, and he could see a tiny bit of fear in those eyes too. Either for fear of his response or fear of his anger, that look killed him. He never imagined Hermione would fear him in any way. He knew he would never hurt her, and he swore at that moment that he would never give her a reason to look at him like that again. He hated Malfoy, but he was not willing to let that cause him to hurt his fiancé any more. He knew that Hermione couldn’t tell him the full story, but she seemed to genuinely think well of Malfoy’s treatment of the little girl. So, Ron would trust her and, dare he say, trust that Malfoy had good intentions toward the kid.
He took a deep breath, washing all the anger away with the air that evacuated his lungs, and said softly, “Hermione, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. I’m sorry that I constantly let my anger get the better of me. I love you, and I trust you. If you trust Malfoy, and you think this is right. I support you.” The look of amazement and happiness that filled her beautiful chocolate eyes both filled him with joy and hurt at the same time. He was joyous because he made her happy and was on his way to her forgiveness, but he was hurt that she was so happy to have the trust that she should have had all along.
“I’m sorry that I said you cheated on me with Malfoy. I’ve already told everyone that I was just jealous, and you would never do that. I was such an arsehole. I’m sorry. I will never do that to you again. I hope that you can see that I was just really worried about you, and I went about trying to protect you in the wrong way. I know you don’t need protection. You could kick Malfoy’s sorry arse any day. But, I just want to at least seem like I had some power to protect you. But all I did was hurt you, and I never ever want that to happen. It wouldn’t ever happen again. I swear,” Ron vowed, keeping his eyes on Hermione. She was beginning to cry, and when he was about to start apologizing profusely all over again, she stopped him with a finger over his partially opened mouth.
“Ron,” Hermione began with glassy eyes, “I love you too. And you were an arse.” He began to look down, not wanting to meet angry eyes, but she gently tilted his chin back up. When he was looking at her, he continued with a sad smile. “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize that you were just trying to protect me. Yes, you did in a very wrong way, but I shouldn’t have immediately accused you of not trusting me without knowing your reasoning. I know you would never try to hurt me. Now, if you ever falsely accuse me of cheating on you again, I will make Voldemort look like a school years bully,” she threatened with dark eyes. She was still very upset over that. “But, for now, we need to take care of a kid, and we can’t do that when we’re fighting all the time. I love you, and I want to make this work. We need to start by communicating without anger. We can’t let petty arguments dominate our time together. Are you willing to try to make us better? Communicate without getting hateful first?”
Knowing that his relationship depended on this answer made his “of course” come out quickly. Ron was happy. He was being forgiven. Everything would be okay again. That feeling was reconfirmed by the bone-crushing hug Hermione gave him. They sat like that for what seemed like five minutes: her almost in his lap, leaning off the desk awkwardly embracing him in his chair. When she finally pulled away, she said, “Now I hate to do this, but I made Kingsley do it too. Would you make an unbreakable vow not to tell anyone what you know about Rosie? I need to make sure she is 100% safe. I know you wouldn’t tell, but I need to make sure no one can force the information out of you.”
Ron found an Unbreakable Vow a bit far-fetched for a simple case like this. No way it would take more than a week for her and Malfoy to break the law, and it would be useless. When he expressed this to her, she frowned slightly, “I know it seems drastic, but I don’t think this case will be an easy one, and what’s one more level of protection? The Unbreakable Vow will end when either the law is broken, Malfoy marries, or Lucius dies.”
Ron thought about this. It wasn’t as if he had the overwhelming urge to tell everyone that he was fostering Malfoy’s daughter, what can a bit more protection harm? But in typical Weasley fashion, he couldn’t let Hermione get away without a bit of teasing. “You know, Lucius could easily be taken care of,” Ron said with an exaggerated wink. She laughed heartily at his comment. “That would be wonderful and make my life much easier. Unfortunately, I have this pesky conscience that just wouldn’t let me off him yet. I’ll ring you if it finally goes away,” she replied with a smirk.
Ron loved their banter and was ecstatic to have it back. But, something was nagging his thoughts, and he had to discuss it with Hermione before they got too far off track. “Will we still be able to get married? With this law I mean,” he asked quietly. Her brow furrowed, “honestly, I hadn’t thought of that. I tend to think of the purebloods as just the Sacred 28 clan,” then, she looked at him with her lips quirked upwards creating an adorable dimple on her left right cheek. “I think I can manage to break one pesky law for the sake of marrying you though.” With that, Hermione and Ron preformed the vow, then talked good-naturedly for another half an hour before Hermione had to go pick of Rosalinda. She gave him a kiss goodbye, and managed to bump her knee only once on the way out of his office.
Ron beamed. Everything was okay.
Despite Hermione’s discussion with Ron going so well, she still felt something was wrong- or was going to go wrong. The uneasiness followed her through signing foster paperwork. Only until she saw Rosalinda did she finally just shove all the uneasiness into a box in her mind. I’m sure it’s nothing. Ron sincerely apologized. He didn’t get angry. Everything is going to be perfect again. Right?
"Wrong,” her subconscious said, but she ignored it. She didn’t want to be untrusting like she accused him of being. So, all those bad thoughts her put aside for worrisome thoughts. Where will Rosalinda sleep? Who will take care of her during the day? When can she see her father? How do they locate her mother? Should they locate her mother? Ugh. This is so complicated. How am I going to see Draco? Hold it. When did Malfoy become Draco? Oh goodness. I need a nap.
“So Rosie, what’s you’re favorite color?” Hermione asked Rosalinda on their way out of the Ministry. She needed to make a room for Rosie, and ease the tension. She needed the little girl’s cooperation through this process.
“Red,” she replied simply, swinging her arms as they strolled through the lobby.
Oh Draco is going to get a kick out of that- Dang it! Stop that! “How would you like to go shopping for some stuff for your room?” Hermione questioned. She looked down to see Rosie pulling on her now-brown hair with slight anxiety. “Hey, what’s that matter? We don’t have to go shopping if you don’t want to.”
“Why isn’t mummy getting me?” Rosie asked, her eyes shining with tears, bottom lip trembling.
Hermione’s heart melted. She stopped their walk, and bent down to be on Rosie’s eye level and whispered, “if your mummy comes in, they can give her a truth potion, and if they do, they will know who your daddy is, and that would be dangerous for you. She is just trying to protect you. But, I will try to find her, okay?” Rosalinda gazed at her with childish trust and bobbed her head. She was still upset, and Hermione knew how to make that better. “Now,” Hermione began in a secretive tone which caught Rosie’s attention, “how about we get you a nice red blanket for your bed, some new clothes, and to decorate, I think a few new books are in order.” Hermione smiled mischievously, and Rosalinda returned with an eager nod.
Hermione stood back up, and led them to the Floo, which Rosalinda was well versed in. As soon as they stepped into Diagon Alley from the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione said, “maybe we’ll get some ice cream first. We never did get to it last time.” That drew a giggle from Rosie, and the two practically skipped to Florean Fortescue’s.
Disillusioned and in a shady alley, a woman watched as her own daughter, disguised under a glamour, and the famous Hermione Granger giggled and ate ice cream. That should be me. They should have never found my baby. Sadness filled her heart. She wanted her daughter. She wanted to be out of hiding. But, how is she to get her little girl back without putting her in harms way? With that depressing thought, the young mother broke down into tears. However, as her tears faded, a resoluteness took its place. She was going to get her daughter back.